Giving and asking for recommendations for worthy charitable donations seems to be popular this time of year, so I’ll do both, following my earlier unsolicited financial advice.
Excepting the very laws of nature (see arch anarchy), aging and its resulting suffering and death is the greatest oppressor of humanity. As far as I know Aubrey de Grey‘s Methuselah Mouse Prize/Foundation is the only organization making a direct assault on aging, so I advise giving generously. Fight Aging! is the place to watch for new anti-aging philanthropy.
The most important human-on-human oppression to end, in the U.S. at least, is the drug war (which directly causes oppression in other jurisdictions as well). I’ve only mentioned this in passing here. There’s too much to say. The Drug Reform Coordination Network is saying some of it. The Marijuana Policy Project seems to be spearheading state level liberalization initiatives. See MPP’s 2006 plan. I met MPP founder Rob Kampia a year or so ago and was left with a good impression of the organization.
Wikipedia is the current exemplar of the anti-authoritarian age and I love their transparency.
Finally, you could help pay my salary at Creative Commons, more in these letters.
I’d really prefer to give entirely outside the U.S. and other wealthy jurisdictions. However, I’m not interested in any organization that gives direct aid (reactionary, low long term impact), supports education (feel good, low long term impact), exhibits economic neanderthalism, has religious or social conservative ties, or is a shill for U.S. foreign policy in the areas of drugs, terror, or intellectual property. I am looking for organizations that support autonomous liberalization or any of the goals exemplified by the organizations I already support above. Suggestions?
I suppose supporting prizes is one means of donating without respect to jurisdiction. In cases were low cost is important, researchers in cheap areas will tend to win.
I’d also prefer to give via some innovative mechanism. We’ll see what the new year brings.
Wikipedia chief considers taking ads (via Boing Boing) says that at current traffic levels, Wikipedia could generate hundreds of millions of dollars a year by running ads. There are strong objections to running ads from the community, but that is a staggering number for a tiny nonprofit, an annual amount that would be surpassed only by the wealthiest foundations. It could fund a staggering Wikimedia Foundation bureaucracy, or it could fund additional free knowledge projects. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has asked what will be free. Would an annual hundred million dollar budget increase the odds of those predictions? One way to find out before actually trying.
Of course I expect all of my donations to have imperceptible impact, almost as imperceptible as voting. But it’s all about expression. I’ve increased my expressive value by including a donor comment — “in loving memory of Άναξιμένης” — with my Wikipedia donation. I got an expressive boost when my comment was chosen for highlighting.
(Anaximenes of Miletus was a pupil or contemporary of Thales and has a cooler sounding name. As a kid I’d dedicate donations to Alexander the Great, but I now know better.)